Monday, December 14, 2009

New Directions

So, I told you that, after my fatty liver syndrome freak out, the Nurse Practioner assured me that they were going to help me through this, monitor me monthly, and get me on the right track. She figured out my basal metabolic rate and told me that these are the calories that I need to simply "be". If I eat that many calories and expend calories through exercise, weight loss would result. Great -- fine. All set to join a gym that my friend has been urging me to join so we can work out together.

Then, three days later I dislocated my knee. Since then the only exercise I'm getting is stumping around on crutches and Physical Therapy. But that's another story.

I also mentioned that I have completely fallen off the WW bandwagon. This is for two reasons -- first, my aunt, who had encouraged me to go to WW with her, has stopped going. The meeting location is about a 20 mile drive for me (we chose that location because it's close to my aunt). So, if my aunt (for whom I would walk on hot coals) is not going to be there, I am, shall we say, "disincentivized" to drive that far for a meeting, get sneered at by the weigh-in lady (only one - the others are lovely), corral chickadee #2, and then run back to my home city in time to pick up chickadee #1 from school.

On my WW meeting days, I'd drop off Chickadee #1, go to School of Community, then head to WW. I'd take Chickadee #2 to lunch at Chick-fil-a (they make a mean 8 point salad), and rush back to pick up Chickadee #1, then rush home to get into ballet gear (chickadee, not me) and rush out to ballet, run some errands in that hour, then go home. I'd be gone from 8 am until at least 5, with maybe a 15 minute period here and there to come home. That is CRAZY. It was making ME crazy. And ineffective. And tired. Not to mention a cruel mommy to a 3 year old.

The second reason is the basal metabolic rate that the Nurse Practioner gave me. I'm not sure whether the WW formula is wrong, or if I did it wrong, but it turns out that, if we are talking 50 calories per WW point, then my daily point allowance under WW seriously underestimated my caloric requirements -- by say, at least 300 calories per day. Given the fact that, because I was not really losing under WW, I had further reduced the number of points I was consuming each day, I was never going to lose weight that way -- I had sent my metabolism into a tailspin.

So, instead of doing WW, I asked Santa Claus to bring me a GoWear Fit armband. Have you heard of these things? Basically, it's an armband that you wear on your left bicep. It keeps track of the calories you expend, the steps you take, and the amount you sleep each day. You connect it to your computer and it records the data. Then, you connect to their website and enter what you have eaten for the day. The website will tell you whether you have consumed more than you have expended and provides reports that analyze your sleep efficiency, what sources you have gotten your calories from, and the like. It takes the mystery out of things, and will give me something concrete to bring to the doctor when I go in for my monthly "check in". So, it's all good. While the armband is pricey ($199 -- $179 on, having raw data in front of me is really helpful. I can see, for example, that I get way too few calories from protein and more than I should from carbohydrate. I can see that I need to increase my steps, though that's kind of difficult with crutches. I think it will be a good tool, and there are other features, such as alarms and reminders, that I haven't worked with since you need to have a matching "wrist display" to see what you are doing in "real time" rather than after the fact. Santa's helper is bringing that, I think.

OT -- Nickelodeon ParentsConnect "World's Biggest Online Baby Shower"

When I was pregnant with Chickadee #2, my sister invited me to Carroll County's Biggest Baby Shower. At the time, my sister worked for the County's Infant and Toddler's Program, which provides early intervention services to children with disabilities and to their families. The concept of the County's Biggest Baby Shower was to get a bunch of pregnant women into a room, give them a nice lunch and some cake and punch, some party games and door prizes, and LOTS of information on infant development, services, health, and other parenting topics. Even though I only won a small scrapbook which I later regifted (with full disclosure to the recipient that I was regifting), I learned a lot despite the fact that I was not a brand new mother.

Now, even if you don't live in Carroll County and it's not the summer of 2006, you too can participate in a great virtual baby shower, complete with games, advice, and prizes. It has come to my attention (via a dear blogging (and real-life) friend at A Parent in Silver Spring) that, this Wednesday, December 16 (as in, two days from now!) Nickelodeon is hosting Nickelodeon ParentsConnect's World's Biggest Online Baby Shower. Between 10 am and 8 pm, the ParentsConnect Message Board will be hopping with shower games, a lifeline of advice on parenting, and many cool (really cool) prizes. Need a UppaVista Baby Stroller or a Medela Freestyle Breast Pump? Drop in to the Message Board for your chance to win these and many other great prizes -- from diapers to jewelry! The host of this unique online party will be Susan Newton, of The Shower Diva fame.

You can participate in the party in one of three ways:

1. Log in (or register) for ParentsConnect. Go to

2. Go to Pingg, RSVP "Yes!" and use the "Share Invite" to invite others. The person with the most guests wins a $650 stroller. RSVP at:

3) Visit on December 16 between 10 am and 8 pm to join the party.
Go to

See you at the party!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hiatus Over

It's been so long since I've posted. A lot has happened. First, I'll come clean. I haven't set foot in a WW meeting or tracked a single point for weeks months. You could say that I've fallen off the wagon. Hard. Nonetheless, this has been a period of incredible introspection and lots of mental work for me.

When I spoke before about my strange experience of recognizing the ultrasound technician, my discomfort with the whole procedure presaged something even more intense. I got a call at 6 pm two weeks ago from my doctor's office, asking me to come in to discuss the ultrasound results. We made an appointment for 1 pm the following Monday.
That Wednesday through Monday was one of the most difficult periods I've had yet. By the time Monday rolled around, I was convinced that I had pancreatic cancer -- something that runs in my family. I couldn't sleep or eat, couldn't think about anything else. I was gaming out how the chickadees would get taken care of if I were really ill or if I died, how my husband would survive, all that I would have missed. In the doctor's waiting room, I had a serious anxiety attack -- I couldn't feel my fingers or lips, my heart was pounding, and I was close to hyperventilating. Luckily, I do a very quiet freak out so I didn't embarrass myself totally.
In the exam room, when I talked to the nurse practitioner about all of this, she reassured me that I didn't have anything horrible based on what they know now. But, I do have a potentially very serious condition called fatty liver syndrome which, if left untreated, can result in cirrhosis and, eventually, liver failure. My liver is enlarged as a result of irritation (i.e., being "fat") and I need to have a CT scan to look at a cyst they found on my kidney. The doctor reassured me that the cyst was not cancerous -- that they could tell that it was filled with liquid -- and that the radiologist didn't even recommend a follow up -- they were just using a surfeit of caution.
HOWEVER, the important thing to note is that it is imperative for my health and future well being to lose weight. As if I didn't know that already. But the nurse practitioner was really lovely about it and assured me that they were going to help me to do it. I am to go in monthly to be monitored and to make sure I get and stay on track.
I left the office relieved and somewhat happy, if a little worried about the CT scan. I resolved to join a gym that a friend has been urging me to join for a long time (low rates plus babysitting, close to home). We were arranging a time for her to meet me there so that she could introduce me to the manager (she gets some kind of emolument for bringing in new members). I was preparing to go away to Colorado for a wedding with my husband, leaving the chickadees with my parents for the whole weekend! And then, I did this:

Yes, folks, that's a human knee. MY dislocated human knee. My dislocated human knee that failed me in the wet, slippery parking garage of a major big box store that will remain nameless -- but it's not the Arkansan one. In this parking structure of this nameless store, I slipped on the crosswalk and my leg and knee did things that no human knee should do. The pain was intense and I had to crawl across the parking deck, with my 3 year old chickadee screaming, "Mommy, please get up!" over and over again, while I treated her tender ears to words she shouldn't have been hearing (in between screaming myself, I mean). There was no one around (we were on the top level of a 5 level garage), so I had to get myself and the chickadee into the car, in a rainstorm.
And I've destroyed my knee. No fitness club for me these days -- but I am doing PT twice a week. Sigh.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

God's Little Wake Up Call

This morning, I had an abdominal sonogram. No, I'm not pregnant. Instead, I was being examined because I'd had some elevated liver enzymes in blood work that I'd had done during my September physical. Going into the exam room with the sonogram technician was sobering. Sobering because she was the same technician who had examined me last spring when the doctor thought I might have a blood clot in my leg (thank you, sciatica). Sobering because, while I recognized her, she also recognized me. Sobering because, all the while she was examining me, I was praying to God to spare me from some horrible diagnosis. I was also thinking about how terrible it is that. in the last two years, especially this past year, we have spent so much money on health expenses for ME. As I've complained about mentioned before, I've had a revolving litany of health problems recently. How many times am I going to ignore what my body is telling me? Isn't it enough that I have personal relationships with incidental health care professionals?

Yes, I'm trying to be healthier. Yes, I'm doing Weight Watchers and I try to be cognizant of what I'm eating. But I'm not exercising (because I hate it, I hurt, I don't want to, I'm busy, I'm lazy, I've never liked exercising, it costs too much, I'm tired, I can't take the kids, etc. etc. etc.). So what is stopping my lazy ass from getting out of bed at 5 am and walking? Nothing but laziness and exhaustion -- both of which can be cured by doing the thing I'm avoiding.

What makes me sad, though, is that the last time I lost a lot of weight (right before I met my husband), I did it out of PRIDE. I was planning a trip to Ireland, where I'd spent a year and a half while in graduate school. I didn't want to go back there and have people look at me crossways because I'd gained 30 pounds. For pete's sake, if I lost weight for a bunch of strangers, why the f*&* won't I do it for my husband, my children, MY SELF???? This is the mystery.

Sigh. Let's go for a walk.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Demon of Frustration

Lately, I've been really frustrated. I'm not losing weight. In fact, I'm gaining. Last week was the last straw. I'd "been good" all week. I'd done a lot, if not everything "right". And still I gained. Turns out I was retaining water for the usual monthly reason like crazy, but still very frustrating. Weight Watchers is supposed to be empowering, not humiliating. Not shaming. Not another occasion to fail. Weight loss is not rocket science -- Calories in need to be less than calories out and weight loss will occur.

So, knowing this, why do I do things that are absolutely counterproductive (like buying a big bag of dark chocolate M&Ms for putting into cookies for the chickadees). Now, I don't really like M&Ms, so that's not too tempting, but I DO really like the dark chocolate M&Ms. So far, I've stayed away from them and the accompanying Semi-sweet chocolate morsels for the same cookies. But, will I be as successful when I make the cookies? Will I "try just one" and see it become 2, or 3, or 5, or 7? Why don't I more regularly do productive things, like walking every morning? Because my time is not my own? Because I don't want to give up those extra 50 minutes of sleep in the morning? Because I don't want to add another layer of complexity to an already complex morning routine (small house, small children, one bathroom, two adults and two children getting ready at the same time)?

So, what are the PRODUCTIVE things I'm not doing or not doing regularly enough?

  • drinking water/liquids
  • preplanning breakfast and lunch consistently
  • walking and other cardio exercises
  • getting enough sleep
  • weighing and measuring
  • tracking BEFORE eating

What are the COUNTERPRODUCTIVE things I am doing too regularly?

  • bringing trigger foods into the house (dark chocolate M&Ms, anyone?)
  • planning a really high calorie meal because the chickadees and husband will like it or because it's on the meal plan of the week I'm following
  • agreeing to eat out
  • agreeing with husband that pizza on Friday was a good choice and THEN not choosing something alternate
  • skipping meals (like yesterday, when I ate a McDonald's Bacon, egg, and cheese bagel (without yucky sauce) and hash brown for breakfast, then had only some dried apple chips for the rest of the day until night time, when I had a grilled ham and cheese sandwich and Progresso Chicken Noodle Soup for dinner). I certainly didn't have all my points yesterday.

So the question is, why am I doing these things (or not doing these things) that are not getting me what I want? Don't I want it enough? Am I just lazy? Am I scared? Am I depressed? Am I overwhelmed? Am I sad? Am I frustrated? Am I stupid?

I don't know. I'm going to do some laundry and then take a walk. Aaargh!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Interim Goal Check

So, how am I doing on those interim goals that I listed last week....

Yoga 3 times -- NOPE, not yet, though I started to do a Bollywood dancing class before it killed me. It's lots of fun and I'm planning on doing it again today.

Let DH put the chickadees to bed 2 times this week while I go upstairs to read and relax. I'm on track with this -- DH put the girls to bed one night last week, while I relaxed, and even cleaned the kitchen after dinner twice!

Lose five pounds over three weeks. We'll see how I did at WW on Thursday.

Take a short walk every day. NOPE, but I'm turning off the computer right now to go for a walk with Chickadee #2.

She wants to know if we are going far, and if so, how we are going to walk home. With our feet, I said. She seemed to think that was acceptable.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Goal Setting

I think one of my problems in this process has been my lack of intermediate goal setting. I've had my eye on the end goal and it seems overwhelming. I see my friends, moms of my children's friends, women on the street -- I see those women and I think "I'll never get there. I might as well not even start or not really be serious about doing this because I will never ever get there." I'm defeated before I begin. What a waste of time and energy.

Today's WW meeting talked about setting goals. I think that my fellow meeting attendees are just as confounded as I am. We all know the importance of this task, yet, when Lisa, our meeting leader, wanted us to tell her about the goals we have set, there was silence. We could articulate the reason for setting short-term goals ("Because if you set a short term goal and achieve it, then you are encouraged and feel like you can reach your ultimate goal), but apparently none of us had done this.

So, it's time to fix this problem:

My first short term goal is to do the yoga class on Comcast Exercise TV 3 times in the next week. Each class is 45 minutes long -- I think I can do that, even if I have to get up at 5 am to do it.

My second short term goal is to let my husband put the chickadees to bed twice a week while I go upstairs to my newly revamped reading nook and look at magazines or read short stories or something else that relaxes me.

My third short term goal is to lose five pounds over three weeks.

My fourth short term goal is to take a short walk every day this week.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Finding a Voice

I'm really struggling in these writings to find a voice. And, I think, that struggle to find a voice is connected to the larger fight to lose weight and be healthy. Over the weekend, my husband and I were talking about some issues and I just lost it -- in that moment, I felt so misunderstood, so frustrated, so downtrodden, and so alone. He asked me what I wanted, and I could only reply that I didn't know -- that I am so far away from myself and the dreams that I had when I was younger, I couldn't even recall them any more. There's so much babble going on inside my head, I can't seem to breathe or to find the psychological space to devote time to my own happiness and health. I'm almost entirely at the behest of others -- sometimes because that can't be helped (as when my chickadees are demanding and needing attention (all the time, LOL), and sometimes that's because I add too much "stuff" to my life -- volunteering at church, visiting friends and family, taking the children on outings, etc. Life just seems to accelerate and accelerate and only screeches to a halt when I lose my mind temporarily, have a fit, then pick up the pieces. Obviously, this is not an optimal way to conduct business.

So, why is it so hard? Why is it that I can't seem to find time for the things that I love to do? Why can't I bring myself to say to my husband when he arrives home from work, "Honey, I'm going upstairs for some alone time or out for a walk? Dinner's on the table and the children are ready for bed." Could that reason possibly be that, most of the time when he arrives home from work, the house is in chaos, children are jumping off the sofa, I'm in the middle of cooking dinner, and I'm ready to lose my mind? Then we have dinner, and I start the nighttime routine. Even if we start bedtime on time (around 7:30), I'm still not finished with it until at least 8 and more likely 8:30. Then I have to clean the kitchen and try to restore some order. Sometimes, instead of straightening up, we talk or share things about our days, so clean up doesn't happen until 10, 10:30, 11:00 pm, at which point, we're both mind numbingly exhausted and likely snapping at one another. We retire to our (messy) bedroom, read for ten minutes, then pass out from sheer exhaustion -- if we can sleep or are let sleep by the chickadees. Then we wake up and do it all again. Day after day after day. I can barely take a breath, let alone take time to be healthy.

And in the midst of it all, I hear my voice getting fainter and fainter. I'm becoming someone I don't want to be -- someone who whines, who makes excuses, who takes her frustration out on others. The clarity of mind I used to have seems to have gone, replaced instead with emotionalism. I know the way out of this, but I can't seem to get going on the road. I feel stymied at every turn and get more and more frustrated, until I'm tempted to give up and just let life take me where it may. But I'm not a piece of flotsam. I have to be an agent, rather than an object. That means taking control. Deep breath. I can do this.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Daily Progress

Last week's WW meeting didn't go well -- I'd gained 1.2 pounds. I really have got to stop goofing around here.

So, I've tried to be cognizant of what was entering my mouth today.

I started off strong! Oatmeal, with a sprinkle (1/2 tsp) of sugar and a small splash of half-and-half. A banana -- Points total? 2 + .5 +.5 +2 = 5 WHOOO HOO!

Mid-morning latte with a friend (assume the friend got whole milk when she ordered -- I was with Chickadee #2 in the bathroom, where she produced, and I quote: "A turtle and a Mystery Fish." LOL, FLUSH!!!!, so Points total: 2

Lunch: Crab Cake Sandwich -- set points 5, ciabatta -- 4, 1/2 french fry order = 5 (Points total 14)

Snack: 1/2 apple = 1

Dinner: 3 oz chicken (crockpot chicken with a bit of pesto on it): 4 points
Jasmine rice 1/2 c. -- 2 points
Broccoli 1 c -- 0 points
2" square of sheet birthday cake: 3

Half and half in tea -- 2 points

Total: 33 points.

That's pretty much on target and I think there's some wiggle room since I'm overestimating points in many cases.

The only way I could be off -- and this is a possibility, of course, is over the points at lunch. We had lunch with my in-laws before they left after spending the long weekend with us.

It's very difficult to tell what a restaurant uses in their dishes, but the crab cake was broiled, not fried, and although it apparently used some mayonnaise, it was not over the top. The fries I should have just left on the plate, but at least I split them with my mother in law.

My husband and I are doing very well with our resolution to not eat out at all -- before this weekend, we had not eaten a restaurant meal in over 2 weeks. While the in laws were here, we had one dinner (at Bertucci's, where I got what I hoped was the lowest calorie thing on the menu, a sirloin fillet) and today's lunch.

Today I worked on getting all my fluids in. I still need to work on getting enough vegetables -- I had broccoli (1 vegetable serving), 2 large slices of tomato (1 vegetable serving), and 1/2 of a large apple (1 fruit serving). That means I still need two fruits or vegetable servings. And I'm full. And it's almost 10 pm. And I'm blogging instead of working. And what the hell, I can't eat any more today. I need to make better choices tomorrow.... As all days. Sigh.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I hope this disgusts you as much as it does me....

So "plus sized" model Lizzie Miller is posing nude in the September issue of Glamour magazine. This woman is BEAUTIFUL. She has great skin, a gorgeous face, a lovely, arresting smile, and a body that I would kill for. She's sexy, attractive, and vital. And yet, the reaction to the 3" x 3" picture has merited a mention in the network news and as a Yahoo! Entertainment News story (where I first encountered it), as well as a frenzy of handwringing (including this post) about how our culture looks at women's bodies. Is anyone surprised at the following:

Lots of female readers said "bravo," and thanked the magazine for showing a woman with an average body. But many men wrote in saying they didn't like the picture, and that the model is too heavy.

If this woman is too heavy, at 5'11" and 180 pounds, God help us all.

Seriously, folks, this points out the utterly ridiculous culture in which we live. If we cannot recognize a "beauty" who is actually beautiful rather than emaciated in a "heroin-chic" (????) way, how can we survive?

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Best Time of the Year

Forget New Year's Day. Forget Birthdays. The REAL start of any year is the beginning of the school year. Even now, as removed as I am from the life of an academic, my step becomes more springy as the days gets cooler, the school buses start rolling, and the smell of new erasers and paper fills the air. Chickadee #1 starts kindergarten this year, at our local parish school. She gets to wear a uniform (thank God) and and will get in the classroom of a very loving, and very no-nonsense Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) Sister. Just what Chickadee #1 needs. Less nonsense. More loving.

I got the chance today to demonstrate the turning over of multiple new leaves -- my imperviousness to shame, my ability to absorb pain, my new found resolution to stick to my guns when it comes to the chickadees, and my refusal to take any nonsense from them. I was proud of myself, but I don't think our local Target will stop talking about us any time soon.

It's a beautiful day here in the center of the Mid-Atlantic region. Clouds marching off into the distance make you imagine fairy realms high in the air. I spent the morning at the doctor's office (full physical -- blood work and x-ray results to follow. We'll get to the bottom of this pain thing I am sure.) After I picked up the chickadees from my friend's house, I softened the blow of them leaving their best friends by telling them that we had to go to Target to pick up a few things, but that if they were good and obeyed the rules, I would take them bike and trike riding in the school parking lot (empty) afterwards. I was looking forward to their playing and my sitting on a convenient stump reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which is marvelous.

Before we went into the store, these were the rules I set down:
1. Stay with Mommy.
2. No pulling things from the shelves.
3. No shouting or disrespect.
4. We buy only what is necessary.

If they successfully followed these rules, we would have the rewarding experience of riding and reading. If not, we would leave the store immediately and come straight home.

So off we went. Chickadee #1 was really trying to follow the rules, although she strayed from the straight and narrow a few times (pushing the cart when told not to, for example). Chickadee #2 was bopping along, mostly in the cart. We picked up what we'd come for on the first floor. We rode the escalator upstairs as a special treat (the chickadees love the "cart escalator" in Target) and started to look at books. Then Chickadee #1 had to use the bathroom. We made a successful potty visit and the hand washing reminded me that I needed Purell. So, it was off downstairs again, and another escalator ride. While we were walking towards the pharmacy area, Chickadee #1 pulled away to grab a Sponge bob Square pants watch from the jewelry section -- she just wanted me to see it and put it back as soon as I told her to. But, she broke rule #1 and rule #2.

And MUCH WORSE, she gave Chickadee #2 the idea to check out the kiddie watches. She grabbed a Dora watch and tried to open the packaging. She wanted to buy it. When I said no, she went into full blown TANTRUM mode. Screaming, crying, thrashing about, etc. I said that we were leaving, and Chickadee #1 started to have a fit about the cart we were leaving behind. So now I had two screaming chickadees who absolutely couldn't believe that I was leaving the store without buying the watch and/or buying anything and that we were going straight home.

I managed to get the kids intact up to the fifth floor of the garage (where we'd parked to enjoy the fantastic sky view just twenty minutes prior -- but oh how crucial a twenty minutes it was) and into the car. Then I left them in the car and watched the clouds go along until the roaring and gnashing of teeth had subsided to a dull whimper. When I got back into the car, I warned them that we would stop the car if they started to cry and fuss again. We got down to level 4 of the garage when it started up again. I drove back up to level 5, got out of the car, looked at the sky for a few more minutes, and called my husband for some moral support. He, of course, backed me up completely. He also shored up my wavering (maybe I should give them another chance??? NOOOO!) and asked to speak to a very upset chickadee #1, who felt that the punishment did not fit the crime -- she hadn't started the tantruming, and she put the watch back, after all. He was able to calm both down a little bit -- despite stifled sobbing from the back seat, we drove home fairly well. Chickadee #2 fell asleep on the way, and I was able to have a reasonable talk with Chickadee #1 about the consequences of not following the rules and the unfortunate fact that, if her sister can't go bike riding, she can't go bike riding either.

She doesn't know it, but my husband and I have agreed that, if she behaves well for the rest of the day, I'll take her to ride her bike after dinner while he puts her sister to sleep.

I'm exhausted but happy to have stuck to my guns. I think we'll all be the better for it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Better, I think.

Is it me, or are the last days of summer particularly difficult? In the past two days, I have had to contend with and defuse (or not) multiple (and I mean, MULTIPLE) temper tantrums both of the 2.99 year old and 5 year old varieties. Today, I think the number was five for Chickadee #2 and 3 for Chickadee #1. The big blowout for Chickadee #2 was when I wouldn't let her paint on the dining room rug with the painting set she pilfered from her sister. For Chickadee #1, it was when I refused to take her bike riding at 4:45 p.m., right as I was getting dinner ready. Some days, whew.

Adding to the general cheer, I started the day very discouraged. It's my practice to get on the scale at home prior to going to the WW meeting. That way, I am clued in to the general direction things are going in -- I don't like surprises. Well, this morning, I didn't like what I saw on the scale, and spent all morning and the drive to the meeting excoriating myself -- "Well, it's no more than you deserve -- you didn't track at all this week, you didn't drink milk, you didn't drink water, you didn't exercise. LOSER!!! (but only in the metaphorical sense)." But, still, I hauled myself to the meeting and stood in line, waiting to be given that pitying, condescending look by the woman behind the desk. Imagine my shock when she smiled and said, "Good job -- you lost .4 of a pound." Now, four tenths doesn't sound like much but, believe me, when you are expecting to have gained two pounds, it feels like a lot.

So, hooray, hooray for me. Imagine what I coiuld do if I actually did everything I'm supposed to be doing?

Now, if only there were a meeting for how to lose the temper tantrums.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bad Day Yesterday

Yesterday was an awful day for me. While I had lunch with a friend (Chick-fil-A salad and sandwich 10 points total), which was nice, Chickadee #2 took my question, "Do you have to go to the bathroom?" a little too literally and peed all over the floor of the mall food court. She's "almost" potty trained, so it was not a huge deal -- except that I, having left the house unprepared AGAIN, didn't have anything to put on her. Luckily for us, the secondary purpose of going to the mall, after meeting my friend, was to go to the Hanna Anderssen store to buy another 3-pack of their training pants. They're lovely, soft, organic cotton and cost only 10 dollars each, LOL! So, we high-tailed it to the bathroom to take off her wet things, Chickadee #1 bringing up the rear. When we got there, I did some quick thinking and told Chickadee #1 to take off the shorts she was wearing (under a dress that is a tad too short) and hand them over. I slapped them (way too big) onto Chickadee #2 and went in search of Hanna Anderssen.

As we walked through the mall, it became more and more apparent to me that I am actually falling apart. Not figuratively -- literally. Every step I took made me feel as if the ground glass in my left hip was shifting around a little bit more and the hot poker running down my leg was heating up to the melting point. By the time we got to the store, I was almost in tears. We quickly bought the training pants and I put them on Chickadee #2, tucking the waistband of the too-big shorts into the waistband of the training pants. We'd planned to also buy school shoes for Chickadee #1, and we did stop by Stride Rite, but the way I was feeling, coupled with the $55 price tag for a pair of Mary Janes, cut our trip short.

On the way home, I became more and more depressed. I'm at the point now where the small things that I need to do are becoming ever more difficult. I can't seem to get a handle on pain -- first from my foot which, after a year and a half, has become a constant companion, to the sciatica, arthritis, whatever the heck it is, in my left hip and leg, which has been with me now for months, to the arthritis in my fingers. The most frightening and most depressing thing for me is to think that I am now only in midlife. If I survive to old age, I will be crippled. Whenever I begin to envision things being better for me physically, my body, this body which I've never really liked, shows me that it's my enemy. "You think you're going to start walking for exercise again -- do a 5K race (which I did actually hobble through)? Ha effin' ha. I'll make it so you can't walk for locomotion."

I don't want to be a mother so wrapped up in her own physical limitations that she can't do things with her children but that's the mother I've become and it makes me so sad. An example -- after getting home from the mall, I took the chickadees to the pool. During "safety break", when the big pools are closed to children, we decamp to the baby pool. At its deepest this pool is 6". From the pool deck to the bottom of the pool can't be more than a foot. But I, instead of just stepping down into the pool, found myself walking around the the shallow (depth 0") end of the pool and walking to the 6" deep side before sitting down on the edge to watch my children play. I did it without really thinking about it. I did it because that's just what I do now; those are just the "accommodations" I make to manage the pain.

After I made that little accommodation so unthinkingly, I looked back down to the current issue of Weight Watchers Magazine, which I was reading. The cover article is an interview with Jenny McCarthy (one of my heroes, actually). The question was, "Why do you think it's healthy to invest in yourself?" Her response, "On an airplane, they say to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before putting it on your child. I've constantly been training myself to think that way. I say I can only be the greatest mom alive if I'm the healthiest, happiest mom alive," (WWMagazine, Sept/Oct 2009, pg. 114). In the bright, sunny mid afternoon heat, I started to cry. I'm not that mom. I'm just not. Not the healthiest, not the happiest, not the greatest.

I'll get there, I pray, but it's such slow going and is so frustrating. I'm going back to a Weight Watchers meeting today, after being away due to vacation, and I'm hoping that I haven't done too much damage, and I am starting some resistance training today (I have the resistance bands and tubes, and think I should actually USE them), and I have finally made an appointment with my doctor for a physical. I've got to write all this down so that I don't forget to mention anything on my catalogue of woes. I hope I can gain some momentum going forward. Please pray for me.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Body Image Blues

A word of advice, Dear Reader. If you have body image issues, as I do, DON'T GO ON VACATION to a place that has as its main attraction a huge indoor swimming pool and accompanying "attractions". Great Wolf Lodge is a lot of fun for children but, in addition to the normal -- ahem-- headaches associated with being in a 4 acre room full of screaming, running, excited children and multiple water features, I spent our mercifully short 24 hours there in excruitating comparisions between myself and others. As much as I hate to admit it, I looked at other women with an assessing, comparing, critical eye. Although I mostly found myself on the deficient side of these comparisons, it kills me that I did it, and it kills me to know that other women are doing it to me: "Whew! At least I don't look like that!"

Comparing ourselves to others is, I think, a natural thing for human beings to do. "How am I doing in comparison to my peer over there?" "Is he smarter than I am? "Is he more handsome than me?" "Does she make more money than I do?" "Is she better looking than me?" That it is natural doesn't mean it's a good thing. I've never been competitive with other people -- I was comfortable with the idea of competing with myself, striving to do and be better with each iteration of a task. I find myself appalled, then, that I am doing all this comparing, which is just another form of competitiveness.

And, of course, it makes me feel so much worse. Sigh.

Menu Plan Monday

I've been planning menus for about a year now - it's a simple way to plan grocery shopping, it helps me be in control of our grocery budget, and it helps to run by the week's selections with my super-picky husband. I've mostly stuck to planning dinners, but this week, in an attempt to rein in our rampant spending (vacation was SO expensive), I've planned every meal. I've also been a big fan of OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday for almost as long as I've been menu planning. So it makes me happy to be able publish my very first Menu Plan Monday post. Next week, I'll do my best to calculate WW points for all the meals.

Without further ado:


Breakfast -- Vanilla Yogurt with frozen berry medley and granola parfaits
Lunch – 99 cent macaroni and cheese at IKEA
Dinner -- Leftover Pasta Meatball Soup (garlic bread and salad)


Breakfast – whole wheat waffle sandwiches with peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and banana
Lunch – ham and cheese sandwiches, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, chips or Peanut butter and jelly, chips, fruit
Dinner -- Roast Turkey Breast, Stuffing, Corn, Gravy, Green beans,Rolls


Breakfast – frozen berry medley smoothie with vanilla yogurt, English Muffin bread
Lunch – kids (hot dogs speared with spaghetti and then cooked) and peas, Mom (green salad topped with leftover turkey, asian dressing, edamame)
Dinner -- Cheese tortellini bake

Thursday – crockpot day

Breakfast –oatmeal with cranberries and almonds
Lunch – on the go sandwiches for Chickadees
Salad with leftover roast chicken and asian dressing for Mom
Dinner: Applesauce chicken
Frozen Peas


Breakfast – cereal of choice or egg white omelet
Lunch – Sandwiches at pool
Dinner -- Fish sticks (kids) or Chile Lime Fish Fry, Corny Polenta, Peas with lemon zest


Breakfast -- Cereal with bananas
Lunch – pack a picnic lunch to take to Brother-in-law’s house (we’re helping them move), Ham and cheese sandwiches, Coleslaw, Spicy noodle salad, Lettuce and tomato
Dinner: Leftover Applesauce Chicken, Buttered egg noodles, green beans, corn


Breakfast -- vanilla yogurt with berry medley and granola parfaits, english muffin bread
Lunch -- spaghettios with broccoli (kids), sandwiches or leftovers for Mom and Dad
Dinner -- Ham Steaks with peaches and apricot sauce, rice, green beans, salad

Thursday, August 13, 2009

So how am I doing on vacation?

All I can say is, thank God, Thursday starts a new week of tracking for me. I thought I was doing pretty well, but I was a tad mistaken. Every week, I get the regular amount of daily WW points, plus 35 extra points that I can either use or not use. Most of the time I don't use them. This week, I used 37 of them (oops).

What really sent me over the top was the flatbread pizza at Uno Chicago Grill last night. Why I thought flatbread was a better choice than say, a salad, I don't know. I just know that I was in a foul mood because the skies had opened up (4 to 7 inches here last night) and we were soaking wet. We'd been driving up and down the "strip" looking for someplace to land, and I knew that the rest of the family would enjoy pizza. So, that's what we chose. I got the vegetable soup (2 points) and a flatbread pizza (24!!! points). Thank heavens I didn't eat the entire thing, but really.

Today is a new day and the beginning of a new week. Vegetables. Water. No more Chicago Grill.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vacation, aahhh. Hunh?

Here we are on vacation near a beach and some naval installations. I've tried to prepare for at least not gaining and, I hope, losing some weight while here. Our hotel provides breakfast -- I've stuck mainly to toast and hard boiled eggs. Not the tastiest, but the eggs are the only protein on offer and I'm trying to ensure that I start my day off correctly.

Yesterday, we brought the lunch I prepared to the beach. It was HOT and very sunny -- almost uncomfortable. We stayed on the beach for a few hours, then, as it got really hot towards noon, retired to find a shady spot to have lunch. Unfortunately, that spot happened to be our RAV4, in the parking lot. Evidently, this town has no parks at all. I suppose they think that the beach is all one could need -- but we prefer our children to remain unlike lobsters and our sandwiches as free from sand as possible. It wasn't too bad -- the chickadees thought it was exotic to eat lunch in the car. My husband was less enthused, but he troupered along.

After lunch, we went on a harbor cruise to look at the naval base that's here. Do yourself a favor -- don't take a five year old and a two year old on a two hour cruise, or you will be praying for a tidal wave to come and sweep you (just you) away. We were shoehorned into the very full cruise at the last minute, so we couldn't find seats (in the air conditioned bottom deck) together. Daddy and the chickadees had three seats (2 side by side and 1 in front), while I had a single seat 4 or so rows behind, across the aisle. Chickadee #1 spent the entire cruise running between her seat and mine. Chickadee #2 followed suit, and added lying over the escape hatch in the middle of the floor to the repertoire. The highlight of the cruise (for the horrified, watching crowd) was when Chickadee #1 tried to get in front of Chickadee #2 -- a little too enthusiastic, she pushed a bit too hard, the boat went over a wave, and Chickadee #2 fell backwards into the side of a seat across the aisle. The wailing and gnashing of teeth began, in stereo.

Afterwards, my husband said, "You know, we really have to rethink these vacations. We just have to resign ourselves to the fact that we have to only do things that the children will enjoy, not necessarily what we enjoy -- this cruise was a disaster." Yep. Next.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Shopping, menu, trepidation, vacation

So yesterday, as I do every Monday, I planned our menu for the week. I got most of the groceries from Harris Teeter, since I can order them and then pick them up. Staff there shops for you, bags the groceries, charges your account, and puts the packed bags in your car when you arrive to pick them up. Not having to shop with the chickadees in tow is worth the $4.95 service fee I (which has been deferred almost every time I've used the service for one promotional reason or another). I did, however, have to stop at Trader Joe's to pick some other things up.

My menu plan for the week, you ask?

Monday: Grilled Tilapia, fish fingers for the chickadees, homemade french fries, green beans, applesauce. We didn't do that -- instead, I had the Pesto-cheese-tomato burger, 1 cup of fettuccine with grape tomatoes, and the chickadees and husband had hot dogs with ketchup and/or mustard and a side of fettuccine and marinara sauce. My dinner came to 9 points for the burger (including everything, including the roll), and 5 points for the pasta (4 for the pasta, one for the tomatoes which were cooked in a spray of olive oil). That wasn't too bad, particularly considering that lunch consisted of a salad and lemongrass chicken sticks from Trader Joe's, for a total of 5 points, and breakfast was 2 small bananas (4 points) and a cup of coffee with milk (1 point).

Tuesday: Dinner at sister's to celebrate sister's birthday My beloved older sister is holding a party for herself, 'cause she's just the kind of gal who can think of nothing more lovely to do on her birthday than to gather her family around her. We're having steamed crabs, a Maryland tradition, which is a bit yucky but oh so yummy. As long as I stay away from the beer (which I hate anyway), I should be fine -- a little punch drunk from all the sodium in the Old Bay seasoning, but crab is very low in calories and fat.

Wednesday: Chicken Parmesan Fingers over Garlic Spaghetti

Thursday: Pesto-Cheese-Tomato Burgers, salad Not sure what I'll do here -- the burgers were very good, so I might make them again for the whole family, but I also might just substitute Monday's meal here.

Friday: Cheese Tortellini with tomato sauce for chickadees and husband. Tortellini veggie salad for me

Saturday: Hot dogs or hamburgers on the grill for chickadees and husband. Grilled chicken for me. Leftover tortellini salad

Sunday: Leftover buffet -- clean out the fridge before vacation day.

Ah.... Vacation. Should be fun. Beach, sand, nature reserves, bird watching, Great Wolf, restaurants.

YIKES. We are going to be stuck for five nights in motels/hotels with no kitchen, a family that loves to eat out, and a "carnivale" attitude (all rules are suspended, we are in "extra"-ordinary time). That could spell disaster. I'm coming up with a game plan (eat mostly fruit, with English muffin or toast at the continental breakfast, keep lunch things in the room refrigerator and take to the beach with us in our cooler, choose wisely at dinner, stock up on healthy snacks, etc.). I've asked for advice in the WW meeting and on the WW community website, and have submitted a question to Any suggestions would be welcome. I already know to stay away from the Boardwalk fries (which are too greasy for me anyway) LOL.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


The folks at Washington Hospital Center are jumping all over my a#$ -- even they are telling me I need to lose weight. I received in the mail a beautiful packet of information -- the main enclosure was something titled "Weigh to Lose: The Power of Portions and the Vital Vegetable." Included in the information were a bookmark (always useful for me), a folder which, when opened, becomes a placemat that shows portion sizes of starches, vegetables, proteins, etc. on a plate, and a booklet of information about a contest a local television channel and Washington Hospital Center hosted. The contest is over, but when I checked out their website, I found that the winner, Jenny, was a SAHM of FIVE children. The dietician's description of Jenny's diet very much resembled mine, and my problems. She said:

Jenny was already consuming a very healthy diet when she started the contest. Approximately one month before the contest began she started eating more vegetables and whole grain foods. Her eating issues were related to the amount of food she was ingesting. She would often eat seconds at mealtimes and she would pick and snack throughout the day.... Her meal plan is designed to help her eat in a more structured manner.

I think that is pretty much where I am too -- I try to eat whole grains when I can, and I'm not a fiend for chips, candy, etc. But I do pick at things (even healthy things) during the day and I also tend to consume larger portions than are necessary.

I think the portion size problem may have started out as a side effect to all the restaurant eating we did when I was pregnant with Chickadee #2 -- I was exhausted all the time from running around after the small toddler Chickadee #1 was at the time and my husband was working at night in a very high-stress job. He was stressed and didn't want to deal with the process of cooking, eating, and consuming food at home, and he is a stress eater who turns to pizza for comfort. So, he would suggest going out and I would agree -- I didn't want to cook and clean up either. Everyone knows that restaurant food is cooked with lots of added fat, sugar, and salt (thanks Dr. Kessler). And some restaurants (like The Cheesecake Factory) are notorious for huge portions (I once ordered a salad there that I had for dinner at the restaurant and lunch and dinner the next day!!).

Even when portion sizes are not screaming "I am a behemoth!" to you, they are larger than what you'd make at home. Take pasta, for example. A serving size of pasta is one cup, with one half cup of sauce. At our local Italian restaurant, the penne with sausage comes on an oval plate and includes at least 2 cups of penne, a whole link of sausage, sliced, and about a cup of sauce. Looking at this portion, it doesn't seem unreasonable. It seems an appropriate portion for the $11.95 price. But, if you actually measured it, you would find that, instead of consuming 4 WW points worth of pasta, you had just consumed 8, and instead of consuming 2 points of sauce, you had eaten at least 4 -- not to mention the sausage. This doesn't even account for the salad at the beginning of the meal or the "free" bread that they bring to the table with olive oil for dipping. Your "reasonable" meal probably cost you at least 15 points, which is huge proportion of the daily points you get.

The solution to this problem seems obvious -- do not eat out. Under any circumstances. That's quite hard to do in my family, for one reason and another. My husband comes from a family culture of eating out, which I do not. I actually cannot remember ever eating out with my parents (aside from vacation or road trips) when I was small. In contrast, my husband grew up with a mother who worked night shift and a father who worked swing shift -- this crazy schedule and the exhaustion it engendered made eating out the obvious choice for his family. In times of stress (and who doesn't have stress when you have preschoolers?), we have tended to follow my husband's family pattern -- to eat out or call for takeaway. Every time we have a budget discussion, we target out restaurant budget as the one area we agree to cut. Every month, we spend money on eating out. It takes discipline and planning not to do that. That has to be our next goal.

Monday, July 27, 2009


I'm having a real struggle right now. After last week's "lost week", I still haven't really gotten back on track. And, I double-scheduled myself for this morning -- I scheduled Caroline to participate in a study at the nearby state university's Infant Studies lab at the same time as "Against the Current". All weekend, I've been wavering between going to exercise and going to the study. All right, all right -- I'm choosing to exercise, but my motivation is very low. I'm going because I have to, because I should -- not because I'm looking forward to it. I think I'm just really tired and need a break of some kind. Vacation is in two weeks, so that will be very nice. In the meantime, I have to jump back in. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lost Week

Weight loss efforts this week have flown out the window. After the Saturday "lose your child at the beach" fiasco, we jumped right into the "sofa leg broke, no where to sit" debacle, the "Daddy's going to be out of town for the week" disaster, and the "Mommy's teaching Vacation Bible School" adventure. So, Monday's "Against the Current" class was a miss (which is a shame, because I could have really used the energy). Yesterday, the babysitter arrived to let me go deep water running. On the way to the indoor pool, I actually started to nod off at a traffic light. So, I sensibly pulled into the parking lot, lowered my seat back, pulled the beach towel over me, and took an hour-long nap. Today was my weigh-in day for Weight Watchers, but I didn't go -- I was at the closing assembly for VBS, watching my second grade class practice their song for tomorrow's grand finale.

It's probably a good thing -- I haven't been tracking at all this week and had Trader Joe's frozen pasta 2 out of four nights, Trader Joe's pizza for lunch yesterday, and "Irish spitballs" for dinner (my dad's affectionate name for Chili-mac) last night.

I'll do better this week and get back on track.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Yesterday, I lost something precious.

I took the chickadees to the beach, in a state park on the Chesapeake Bay. I met my brother and his wife and two little beans and some friends and their mite. We had a lovely time -- had lunch (pb&j with sand, grapes with sand, potato chips with sand, you get the picture), built sand castles, splashed in the very mild waves. All was great under the very intense sun.


Chickadee #1 had gotten up enough courage to actually want to get into the water and go out into the waves. But I had to be there and had to be LOOKING as she cavorted. Chickadee #2 was content to play at the water's edge. I had my brother's oldest bean with me -- a real daredevil whom I had to watch like a hawk to prevent her from swimming out to meet the passing speedboats.

Chickadee # 2, as I said, was content to play in the sand at the water's edge. She had been running between our blanket, where my sister-in-law and friend were hanging out with their year-old-ish babies, and the pile of sand she'd been working on. I saw her running toward the blanket and let her go. A few minutes later, I couldn't see her with the adults on the blanket, so decided to go up to them to see what she was doing behind them.

She was not there.

She had not been there.

I immediately panicked, though I unsuccessfully tried to hide it. Thinking -- I DON'T KNOW WHERE MY BABY IS!!! IT'S A FRICKIN' BEACH. THERE ARE BAD PEOPLE AND CARS AND WATER AND OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD."

My brother took off running to the south, my friend's husband to the north, and I, screaming my chickadee's name as loud as I could, ran inland, towards the spot where I'd seen park rangers earlier. I ran into the concession stand when I couldn't see them, then ran out again, screaming her name all the while.

As I approached the beach again, a beautiful young woman came up to me and asked me what Chickadee #2 looked like. She said, "I'm going to help you find her. I have a two year old too." She took off running towards the playground. She had an air of confidence -- not, "I'll try to help you find her." No, "I'm going to help you find her." A few seconds later, another, older, black woman came up to me and told me, "He's got her. She's all right, she's all right," and gave me a hug. I am so grateful to these women. So grateful for the kindness of these strangers. They took the time to help me and comfort me. They were ministers of God to me. I'm sorry to say that I was too panic stricken to even pray throughout the whole ordeal. But God heard the inarticulate cry of my heart and send these women to help me. I wish I could thank them in person, but I hope they know how incredibly thankful I am.

When I saw my brother carrying a crying Chickadee #2 towards me, everything clicked back into place. The possibility of our lives tilting irrevocably out of kilter receded back to the other side of the veil.

Chickadee #2 had been about 100 yards to the south, sitting on the sand, crying. When my brother found her, she clutched at him and cried harder. When he put her in my arms, she clung to me like a monkey, wrapping her arms and legs about my body and crying into my neck. That's okay -- I would have done the same to her if I could have. My baby. Restored to me.

Shortly after this adventure, we left -- too much excitement for one day. As I was walking through the parking lot, chickadees in tow, I saw my first angel, smiling so beautifully at me as she and her husband and children drove past. It was the final surreal touch -- I wasn't sure at first that it was her, because I only saw her face for a few seconds when she approached me on the beach -- I didn't have the opportunity to really form an impression of what she looked like except to note that she was beautiful. But I am convinced that it was her. Thank you.

Later, after the chickadees were asleep and my husband and I had gone to bed, I was jolted back to wakefulness by thinking of all the horrible possibilities. I was overcome with such a sense of gratitude and joy, such thankfulness to God above. I could barely contain it -- I wanted to get up and get dressed and go and pray before Jesus in the 24 hour Eucharistic Chapel our parish has, but I didn't want to wake my husband up by getting out of bed. I thought about waiting a while, then getting up and prostrating my trembling self before the Infant (Jesus) of Prague statue I have, but thought that would too weird.

I contented myself by praying a heartfelt Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. The last joyful mystery, "They Find Jesus Preaching in the Temple" blew me away. I understood viscerally, emotionally, in a newfound way how Mary and Joseph must have felt. God had entrusted them with this marvellous child, this gift, and He was missing. I cannot even imagine the emotions they must have felt -- they didn't lose their child on the beach for three minutes. They lost him in a huge city for three days. My joy on finding Chickadee #2 mirrors that of the Blessed Mother on finding her child.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Obesity Research

I've spent a fair amount of time this weekend reading David Kessler's The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite and it's really making a lot of sense to me. I also saw an article on the BBC website, Obesity 'link to same sex parent', which asserts that obesity in children is directly connected to whether their parent of the same sex is also obese. Wonderful. I found consolation, however, in another BBC article, Obesity 'set before the age of five', which presents research that children who are obese tend to gain most of their excess weight (90% for girls, 70% for boys) before they reach school age (five). Both of my chickadees are extraordinarily tall for their age, but their weight is absolutely proportional to their height and the pediatrician has assured me that they are both at really healthy weights and have healthy BMIs. In fact, Chickadee #2 freaks me out because I can count all her ribs when she raises her arms above her head.

Terry Wilkin, the lead researcher in the study on the age at which obesity is "set" theorizes that there is evidence that diet, rather than lack of exercise, is to blame for obesity in preschool children. He blames higher caloric density and larger portion sizes. Which brings me back to David Kessler.

I'd been waiting to get this book from the library (I'm number 32 on the waiting list) but, this weekend, I decided not to wait any longer and sent my husband to Barnes and Noble. I'm still in the first part of the book, in which Kessler discusses the neurological research related to how animals react to what he calls the "salient stimuli" offered by food -- the taste, texture, smell, and emotional/cultural context of the food we eat. Kessler's presentation of this research is fascinating and very readable -- in some ways, it is even too "dumbed down" -- there are places where I am left wanting to know more (but that's what end notes are for, I suppose). It's also somewhat dispiriting to learn how like laboratory rats we are. Kessler's main point in this section is that human beings react to the presence of fat, sugar, and salt in much the same way as they do to, say, cocaine in terms of the brain's endorphin system.

Kessler describes the ways in which combinations of fat, sugar, and salt are included in different foods. His descriptions of various menu offerings, while funny, are also pretty disgusting. For example, here is his description of potato skins:

Typically, the potato is hollowed out and the skin is fried, which provides a substantial surface area for what [Kessler's industry insider] calls "fat pickup." Then some combination of bacon bits, sour cream, and cheese is added. The result is fat on fat on fat on fat, much of it loaded with salt. -- (Kessler, 19)
Yum. Think of that next time you're at a sports bar.
While this section of the book is disturbing, especially in its relentless detailing of the ways in which our brains are rewired through the things we put in our mouths, I think the next section, called "The Food Industry" is going to be even more eye-opening. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I wear black on the outside because black is how feel on the inside....

Thanks for the great title, Morrissey. I knew all those hours listening to you wail were going to have an effect on me.

After the last appallingly maudlin post, I am half-ashamed to say that I lost 2.4 pounds at this week's weigh in. You might be surprised to find, however, that most of that post was actually written AFTER my success at the scales -- immediately before I started this post, in fact

See, I really DO resent all this, even when I'm "successful". I really wish I didn't have to think about it so much. I really do worry about the messages I'm sending to the chickadees (girls, 5 and almost 3) about how women view their bodies and what is beautiful. I wish I could be happy in my skin, no matter my size, but I can't -- I have never been able to do that -- not at size 10, not at size 12, not at size 14, or 16 or upwards. What I'm looking for on this journey is the ability to inhabit my own body happily, at whatever size I end up.

In fact, the goal I have in mind for my weight loss would have appalled me at 20 or 30 -- THAT's your desired END STATE???? Are you nuts? I'm afraid, however, that once I reach that goal (and I will, no matter what I think in my discouragement) that I still won't be happy.

But here's the rub -- without unhappiness with the status quo, there is no incentive to change. Without hating the way I look, I'll continue to act in the ways that got me to this place, and I think we already know that the elevator goes up much more easily than it comes down. I don't even want to consider where I could end up if I don't assert control now.

It's all confusing to me -- I wish so much that I could approach this whole project without emotionalism, without investing so much of myself in it, but that seems to be beyond me as well. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Here we go again

At last week's WW weigh-in, I'd gained 4/10 of a pound. That's not very much, and I'm not that upset about it, because I know that there could be a host of reasons for that gain. I could have been retaining water, my clothes could have been heavier than those I'd been wearing the week before (I had been wearing the same thing every week, until I found out that the outfit's pants were literally falling apart and I had to throw them away -- I don't buy clothes much -- I think they were from the early days of my pregnancy with chickadee #1, six years ago), or I could have had just one Chocolate Mint Milano cookie too many (just kidding).

Nevertheless, this kind of 4/10ths up, 2/10ths down crapola is very discouraging. I am getting a lot more exercise than I had been -- my "Against the Current" class really kicks my a#@S every Monday, and I'm going deep water running twice a week. My problem is my discouragement and my belief, deep inside, that I actually CAN'T lose weight. I alone, of all the people in the world, have a unique metabolism that does not react to diet and exercise. I alone, of all the people in the world, am consigned to looking and feeling terrible until I die an early death.

How's that for cheery?

I know it's not true. I know that my metabolism is not unique and that fewer calories in and more calories burned equals weight loss. However, it doesn't FEEL like that. It feels like I'm stuck in this less than optimal way of living and I resent it. I resent having to monitor every frickin' thing that enters my mouth and every intentional expenditure of energy. I resent having to write it all down and I resent feeling as if I must always "be good". I hate the way I think about it and talk about it -- all this talk about being good, as if what I eat is some kind of reflection on the state of my soul. I resent it, I resent it, I resent it. And that, ladies and gents, is the kernel of the problem.

It's all mental and emotional, see?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Musings on Exercise

About a year ago, I had a dream, one that woke me from a deep sleep. I woke with a smile on my face (a rare occurence for my sleep-deprived self). In my dream, I was running. I felt so free, so happy, so in-tune with my body. That dream shocked me. I thought about it for days. I'm still thinking about it, still trying to understand both the happiness I felt in the dream and the shock I felt at dreaming it.

See, people like me don't run. People like me are not athletic. People like me hate to exercise.

Wait. Is that true? Why does it have to be true?

When I was a child in elementary school, I was very active. The tribe of children on my road (we didn't have a street, but a road -- a gravel road bordered by a thick hedgerow of overgrown vegetation and, beyond that, a corn field) were always playing tag, olly-olly-in-free, chase games that involved throwing things at one another (apples, plums, peaches from the trees in our yards, gravel from the road, etc.), hide and seek, hiking in the woods, playing in the stream, building "houses" in the hedgerow by whacking at the vegetation with sticks.

No sitting for hours in front of flickering screens for us.

In school, we had a great gym teacher (Mr. Ahrens) who, in his first teaching position right out of college, loved us children and received our adulation in return. He encouraged us to do things that were at the limits of our physical and social abilities -- climbing ropes up to the ceiling, playing all kinds of games, learning to work together in teams. Mr. Ahrens made you feel good about exercise, made you feel good about yourself and what your body could do, made you feel strong.

At our end-of-year field day in fifth grade, Mr. Ahrens encouraged me to run in the hurdles race. He told me that I was really good at hurdles. I believed him and ran a great race -- I don't remember whether I won, but I do remember feeling really proud of myself, and really accomplished.

Fast forward to the horror that was middle school gym. When I mentioned writing this entry to my younger sister, M., she said, "oh, you mean the torture show? Those horrible women who were our "teachers"?" and we spent a good five minutes reminiscing about Mrs. S. and Mrs. O.

They spent our gym classes riding in a golf cart behind us as they herded us forward in the "cross-country running" portion of the class, at best. At worst, they sent us out in the rain to run as they stayed in the gym office playing Boggle and eating Bugles.

The nadir of my experience in middle school gym class came in the spring of 6th grade and serves as a perfect counterpoint to my experience with Mr. Ahrens. It also completely changed how I thought of myself in terms of athletic ability and coordination. During the track and field unit, we had to choose three "events". Naturally, I chose the hurdles. I was good at hurdles, remember?

I'm not sure what happened. Instead of gliding over the hurdles as I leapt like a gazelle, I knocked them all over, falling flat on my face at each. At the beginning and end of the course, Mrs. O. and Mrs. S. stood, watching, assessing, laughing.

Laughing. At. Me.

Mrs. S. thanked me, guffawing, for giving her the best laugh she'd had all year. "I have to give it you, though -- you kept going when anyone else would have given up," she said. Of course, when your teacher laughs at you, it's okay for everyone else to laugh at you too. When your teacher says, in effect, "you should have given up and spared yourself the embarrassment," you listen. I wasn't good at hurdles after all. I wasn't athletic after all. I wasn't "good" at the things you do in gym class.

From that point onwards, gym was a torture in which I had to participate. From the horrible uniforms -- one piece, baby blue "rompers" with a HORIZONTAL pinstrip at top (all the better to highlight our budding breasts and developing waists and hips) to the enforced communal showers -- teachers inspecting us as we left the spray, clutching our inadequate school-supplied hand towels to cover our nakedness. Team sports where teammates groaned when I was assigned to them. Mean girls making comments about other girls' bodies, attractiveness, prospects.

Obviously, I'm still working through all that -- how can I reclaim that child who was good at hurdles? How can I become someone who exercises and moves for sheer joy? How can I burst through the limitations that I let other people, people who didn't care a fig about me, impose?

Me. Somone who exercises. Someone who LIKES to exercise. Whoa.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Stasis and Pain

After two weeks, I had not lost or gained an ounce at my last WW weigh-in. That's okay, and actually more than I expected -- after last weekend's dessert extravaganza and scant attention paid to the Good Health Guidelines (I mostly stayed within points the whole time, but fell down on the job when it comes to making sure I got enough dairy, enough fruits and vegetables, etc.), it's more than I deserve.

So that's the status update.

The real point of this entry, however, is to talk about something that has been on my mind a lot lately -- PAIN. Serial, unrelenting, stupid pain. Not to complain-- I've had pain of one kind or another for at least 18 months now. In March of 2008, I saw my doctor and discussed with her wanting to lose weight. She was very encouraging, but cautioned me that diet was probably not going to do it for me. She told me that I needed to engage in at least 60 minutes of vigorous, sustained, intentional exercise at least five days per week. I "enthusiastically" started -- exercising with children is not a lot of fun, but I did get some of Leslie Sansone's Walk Away the Pounds DVDs and began doing them religiously every morning. I mean, I can walk, right? Anybody can walk.

Wrong. By April, a few weeks later, I had a terrible pain in my left foot. A pain that wouldn't go away and didn't get better. I went to a podiatrist in late May, who diagnosed me with tendonitis and offered me orthotic inserts for my shoes (to the tune of several hundred dollars). That was not very appealing, so I decided to do things the old way -- let's wait and see and it will get better.

Wrong. By October, right before the 20th anniversary of my graduation from the best Catholic liberal arts university in the nation, I was complaining to some friends that I could barely walk and that I was going to be hobbling around campus like I was 142, not 42. A friend looked at me quizzically and said, "why haven't you gone back to the doctor?" Good question. After my return from the reunion (pictures from which make me cringe -- so much for my plans to have lost weight before the reunion -- I'll have to wait until the 25th to fit back into my beloved freshman year pants), I went back to the doctor, who sent me for an MRI. The damage was extensive -- not tendonitis, but a torn tendon. I spent 12 weeks in a "boot". The pain from the torn tendon has receded into background noise -- it's still there, but I can deal with it.

In November of 2008, I came down with a cough that lasted and lasted and lasted and lasted. I was diagnosed multiple times with bronchitis and given four different antibiotics, none of which helped. Finally, I decided I needed to find a new primary care doctor (whom I like very much). She told me that I might have pneumonia, asthma, COPD, or even a lung tumor!!! An x-ray ruled out pneumonia and a tumor (thanks be to God), but didn't solve the problem of the cough. She sent me to an asthma and allergy doctor, who worked with me over a period of months. Earlier this month, he told me that he did not think I had asthma, but that I had had a horrible, drug resistant case of sinusitis, which caused continual post-nasal discharge, which started me coughing and which eventually evolved into a condition that mimicked asthma (recurrent bronchial spasmosis or something like that). I'd been taking Symbicort, Nasonex, another nasal spray, doing sinus rinsing, and a bunch of other things. I feel so much better. I'm not coughing. It's hard to exercise when your lung capacity is at 70 percent. Now that's all over -- I can finally really start to exercise, right?

Wrong again.

Two months ago, I woke up with a horrible pain in my left leg, hip to knee. After a spending a weekend staggering around the house, I decided to see the doctor. She suspected a blood clot (which I also wanted to rule out since my father had just developed one and the pain sounded similar). I didn't have a blood clot, so she wanted me to see a vascular surgeon. After thinking about it, I decided that I didn't want to do that because I wasn't convinced the pain I was feeling came from varicose veins. I really thought (and think) it was from sciatica. So I began seeing a chiropractor recommended by a friend. It really helped, but I'm still not 100 percent better. I need to see him again -- it's just really difficult to make multiple appointments in a week with the chickadees. There is only so far you can impose on friends to babysit for you.
This morning, I woke up with a pain in my back.
I am falling apart.
So what does this pain mean? What is God trying to teach me? I must admit that I am very impatient with it. I am not cut out to be a saint. I think of all the martyrs who bore their pain joyfully, of St. Therese of Liseux who was so patient in illness, and I am ashamed. But being in pain for so long has clouded everything and colored everything with a kind of gray discouragement. I know that I need to lose weight to feel better. I need to exercise in order to lose weight. I can't exercise because I can't walk, can't breathe, or have sciatica (which is horribly painful if you've never experienced it). It's a vicious cycle that I can't seem to break. I think of all the Nike commercials -- just do it. How we valorize athletes who "play through the pain." And I have been trying -- I'm doing deep water running twice a week (all the babysitting we want to pay for right now) and am taking the very strenous "Against the Current" class. So, while three hours of vigorous intentional exercise per week is not five hours of vigorous intentional exercise per week, it is a step in the right direction. I even walked in a 5 K race, for pete's sake -- I should say staggered, actually, and came in dead last. Humiliating. But I "just did it." And I am not seeing the results I want to see. I feel like Sysiphus -- pushing that same fricking boulder up the hill. That same 10-ish pounds comes on and comes off, comes on and comes off, comes on and comes off. Searching for the meaning in all this. Any suggestions welcome.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Just Desserts

My husband and I went away for the weekend, arriving back home on Father's Day. On Friday and Saturday we enjoyed two of the loveliest desserts I've tasted in a long time. The first was a strawberry tiramisu -- ladyfingers soaked in Grand Marnier, a layer of strawberries, a layer of sweetened marscapone cheese, and a drizzle of strawberry confit on top. Believe me when I tell you that it was worth every single calorie -- I counted it as 10 points since the two of us split the dessert between us. The preceding meal was also lovely -- smoked tomato soup, a crabcake on a very tasty hard roll, and a salad of bitter greens with a Dijon vinaigrette. On Saturday, after a day spent in various pursuits (curio shopping, birdwatching, antiquing, beach walking), we enjoyed another good meal at a restaurant in Rock Hall, MD -- Maryland Crab Soup, a crabcake, baked potato, and asparagus. The blackberry cobbler looked too good to pass up -- and it was. Luckily, we split that dessert too.

However, I am afraid that my Thursday weigh-in day will be disastrous. I did try to follow the Good Health Guidelines, but it is quite difficult to do that when you are not in control of the food you are eating -- not in control of the production and, apparently, not in control of the consumption, LOL.

I've had a few days to recover, and have one more day before Thursday to "be good". I've been mostly good.

One wonderful thing is that I've been keeping really busy -- I took the chickadees swimming on Sunday, which is never horribly active for me, but the elevated heartrate caused by trying to keep track of children running in opposite directions near a drowning hazard should count for something. Yesterday, a friend called and invited us to lunch at Cheeburger, Cheeburger -- she's doing WW too, and was smart enough to ask about the nutritional content of their burgers -- 64 grams of FAT. How that is possible, I'll never know -- they must deep fry the burgers. I don't think that 4 ounces of beef naturally contains 64 grams of fat. In fact, I know it doesn't. Luckily, armed with that information, I chose the grilled chicken sandwich. Unluckily for me, I just found the nutritional content of this chain's food -- the grilled chicken sandwich, while better than the burger, contains 590 calories and 26 grams of fat. How the heck is this possible with a GRILLED piece of chicken --do they grill on a bed of Crisco? Sigh.

Anyway, the Cheebuger, Cheeburger fiasco was preceded by a kickass workout (Against the Current, offered by Montgomery County Department of Recreation -- this class deserves (and will get) its own post) and followed by a stint picking blueberries. Today's roster of activities included chickadee wrestling (they've been fighting a LOT lately -- that 2 year old is a fierce contender), Moms group at church, and swimming. We haven't been home a lot, which is good in terms of snacking. less good in terms of housework....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I Just Knew It Was A Conspiracy

Forget the "vast right wing conspiracy" that then-First Lady Clinton slammed for going after her husband when he was caught with his pants down. Forget the Bush-Hitler hysterics. Forget the "Obama engineered the financial meltdown to get into power" theory. This is the real conspiracy: David Kessler, former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, has written a new book called The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite (Rodale Books, 2009). The Women's Health website discusses the new book in its article, Control Your Cravings. Evidently, "menu scientists" at major chain restaurants manipulate the levels of salt, fat, sugar in their foods so as to trigger an addiction-like response in brain chemicals. So you really can't just stop at one french fry. Call me outraged.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Weight Watchers Good Health Guidelines

The Weight Watchers Good Health Guidelines are pretty basic -- when you look at them the first time, you say, of course -- am I not already doing this? Shouldn't we all be doing this?

The guidelines are:

  • Eat 5 fruits and vegetables servings each day

  • Eat whole grains when possible

  • Get 2 servings of milk products each day

  • Get 2 teaspoons of healthy oils (olive oil, canola, sunflower, safflower, or flaxseed)

  • Eat 2 servings (at least) of lean meats, skinless poultry, fish, beans, soy products, and lentils

  • Limit added sugar and alcohol

  • Drink at least 6 8-ounce glasses of liquid each day -- water is the best.

  • Take a multivitamin each day

  • Do 30 minutes of intentional exercise most days.

So, why is it so hard to do those things? I'll be honest -- my adherence to the Good Health Guidelines is spotty.

I usually eat enough fruits and vegetables, but it's a struggle.

I choose whole grains when I can, though it would not be incredibly difficult to make the change to whole grains all the time --not doing so is just laziness, I guess.

Getting two servings of dairy every day is difficult for me. I tend to get my dairy from cheese products, which are full of fat, even when they are part-skim (because what's the point of eating fat-free cheese?) I don't particularly like yogurt, though I do like Greek-style better.

Healthy oils are really hard for me. I've been trying.

I choose lean meats whenever I can -- the beef we eat is all at least 90% lean, with the very occasional (non-lean) yummy steak thrown in. We eat a lot of chicken breast and turkey and some seafood, but only rarely eat beans and lentils -- and never soy!

I very, very rarely drink alcohol -- mostly because it's just not part of my lifestyle and I don't think of drinking -- also, I hate the taste of beer. Limiting sugar can be more difficult -- I do love baked goods.

I sometimes drink enough liquids -- though rarely confine my choices to water -- I like diet sodas and iced and hot tea.

I don't take a multivitamin because they make me choke (bad memories of prenatal vitamins!)

Intentional exercise is not every day -- usually 2 to 3 times per week for 40 minutes to an hour.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Success! (and Frustration!)

At last, after 3 weeks of solid gains, I had a major loss this week -- 3 whole pounds. Now I'm back where I was a month ago, LOL. The trick is going to be how to make sure that that loss continues next week. One thing I did differently this past week was really work to get my milk in each day. I'm not a big milk drinker, and have tended to get my dairy from other sources, like cheese. And cheese is a less-good option than skim milk (Fat, constipation, bloating). I also have tried to ensure that I get at least 2 tsp. of "good" oils every day. My oil of choice is olive -- I use it for cooking whenever possible. I use canola when the olive oil taste would be instrusive. So, for the next week, my goal is going to be to ensure that I follow all of the healthy guideliness from Weight Watchers.

Much later this evening.... Chickadee #2 is still awake at 10:28 pm. I wish I had a HUGE PIECE of Death by Chocolate cake right now. It wouldn't make me feel better (and might make me feel sick), but I could turn the anger and frustration I'm feeling against myself -- at least then it would have an object. Death by chocolate indeed!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday -- behavior modification with ditalini

I've been reading WFMW for a year or so now, and I'm so excited to be posting my very own tip!

So, if you have a preschooler who has MAJOR trouble listening but who is motivated by strange things, this is the tip for you.

Have a discussion with the preschooler after a temper tantrum resulting from not being able to go to the playground after school because she has ballet in 40 minutes (or similar situation). The discussion is about TRUST. "See, Chickadee #1, I can't let you go to the playground after school because I can't trust that you will come with me when I call. How can we build trust? I know, let's build ourselves a "trust bank".

Get yourself a formula dispenser (the kind with three wells). Label one well Neutral, one well More Trust, and one well Less Trust. Get yourself some ditalini or other small pasta (elbow macaroni would also work). Fill the Neutral well to the brim. Explain to recalcintrant preschooler that she will be allowed to go to the playground after school or other fun activity only when the ditalini in the More Trust well are more numerous than those in the Less Trust well.

Watch the behavior improve. Watch the preschooler ask "Do I get a ditalini?" after good behavior and do a victory dance when the answer is yes. It's key, however, to just add ditalini to the Less Trust well at bad behavior without making a huge production of it -- otherwise, you'll get into a power struggle and invite a tantrum.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?

I'm a veteran reader of weight-loss books. If you could get thin by reading, I would have no problems. One of my recent favorites is Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? by Peter Walsh. The premise of the book is that many of the clients that Peter Walsh, a professional organizer, works with have problems keeping many areas of their lives under control -- weight is just one of them. A cluttered home and a cluttered body are evidences of a cluttered mind, and Walsh's premise is that if you get your mind straight, both your home and your body will follow.

Great premise. And I was seriously demonstrating the obverse yesterday and today. After my husband left for a week-long business trip, I started working on an assignment for work that needed to be completed yesterday. I hadn't started it because we had had a very busy weekend (birthday party to be attended by chickadee #1, graduation party for my fabulous nephew later the same day, birthday party for my husband (who turned 40!) on Sunday, dinner out with the family, then home so hubby could pack.) And I wanted to finish this assignment bright and early because my babysitter was coming at 12:30 so I could go swimming. I had to run out to the post office with the chickadees to pick up a registered certified nastygram from MOMS Club International (an organization with which I am no longer affiliated, so I refuse to link to them or to use the "circle R" they keep telling members they must use at every mention of the sacred name. No, I'm not bitter.) At any rate, when I arrived home, chickadee #2 was acting like the 2 year old she is and insisting that I give her my keys. I kept them away from her and continued working. When the babysitter arrived two hours later, I grabbed my keys.... No, wait -- my keys were not in their spot. I started looking. Couldn't find them. Couldn't find them. COULDN'T FIND THEM!!!

The babysitter stayed with the chickadees and I was able to finish my report, so at first, I chalked up the key disappearence to my higher power telling me that I should stay home and do my work. Later, though, my higher power and I had some serious disagreements because I STILL COULDN'T FIND MY KEYS. Car keys, house keys, access cards for the pool, teeny flashlight. A huge bundle.

We tore the house apart (and I live in a very small house). No keys. Desperation set in. I pictured being stuck in the house until Friday, when my husband returned with the extra set of keys. We had no groceries. We needed other things. The children need excursions to keep me sane. We all went to sleep last night with a very unhappy mommy and children who added helpful things like "I saw your keys in the bag of crayons." and "I hide them under the table."

Anyway, we woke up this morning and started looking again. I decided that the best thing to do would be a grid search, like they have on nifty police procedurals like Law and Order: SVU. I wrote up a list of all possible places to look, room by room -- as in, Living Room: couch, under, beside, behind. Shelves in LR --1, 2, 3, 4, 5. ... Dining room, corner table, on, beside, behind, inside... and then went through the places that had not already been searched bit by bit. Luckily, I started in the kitchen. And I found my keys, in a teacup in "Corner Cabinet, Shelf 2." I wish I'd followed my desire last night to have a nice soothing cup of tea.

A friend of mine told me last month (when I misplaced my pool access cards for three days and prayed fervently to St. Anthony for aid) that St. Anthony obviously wanted me to find not only the access cards but also something else, and I needed to figure out what that was. I thought to myself, and maybe even said, "Yeah, he wants me to find my sanity." Well, I guess the lesson was not learned, so the patron saint of the lost needed to give me a refresher. Lesson learned, dear St. Anthony. The first thing I did this morning was to order a remote control key finder from e-bay.